During our protagonists' first drive through Jurassic Park they come to a sick triceratops. One of the park employees says that she gets sick every 6 weeks and they don't know why. Dr. Sattler deduces that she might have eaten some poisonous plants but after examining the excrement, she can't find any hint of such a plant and the question for the desease's cause remains.

However, this whole problem is never picked up again later. I see that the scene also had other uses (e.g. giving us some nice character moments for Dr. Grant, showing the first close-up of a dinosaur and separating Ellie from the team). But they make quite a mystery out of this whole disease that befell the triceratops that it makes me wonder why this story arc isn't picked up in any way.

So is there any information if there was ever supposed to be made something more out of this disease story? Was it only dropped later during editing or is this a more prominent arc from the novel that was only marginally touched in the movie? Or is it even referenced later on but simply eluded me? Or was it in any other way relevant for the story?


2 Answers 2


This was explained in the novel and was planned to be explained in the film, but the scene was cut for time. Here's a summary from /Film Trivia: Why Was the Triceratops Sick in ‘Jurassic Park’?

In the film we learn that the Triceratops is getting sick every six weeks or so. Dr. Ellie Sattler first believes the culprit may be the West Indian Lilac berries found nearby, but she is told that the dinosaurs don’t eat the poisonous berries. We don’t find out the answer in the film but the event is also in the Michael Crichton novel and thus we have an answer to the question of what made the triceratops sick. (In the book it was a Stegosaurus instead of a Triceratops, however.)

The triceratops digests food such as vegetables or fruit by also eating small stones that crush and mash the food in their stomach. In the original book upon which the film is based, we find out that the stones it eats are too close to poisonous West Indian Lilac berries. So when the dinosaur replaces the stones every six weeks it simultaneously picks up some of the fallen berries and is poisoned again.

It was mentioned at the end of the same article that this explanation for the dinosaur's illness was filmed, but didn't make the final cut of the movie.

Interestingly enough, while Spielberg didn’t have the time to answer the question in the film he does suggest the cause as we see Dr. Sattler crouch down by the Lilac berry bush and picks up some small stones, playing with them for a brief moment. This moment is apparently the remnants of a deleted scene which was filmed but never made the final film which would have explained the reason for the dino’s sickness.

You can read the deleted scene in the Jurassic Park Script (scene 44):


The skies are really foreboding now, and there's a sense of 
growing urgency.  ELLIE is by the animal, a short distance away from 
the group.  GRANT is near her, thinking.

Ellie, I've been thinking there's something about the 
periodicity doesn't had up.

    I know.

Tim holds one of the smooth rocks up and calls out, a little 

    These look kind of familiar.

    Triceratops was a constant browser, and constant 
    browsers would be constantly sick.

    Constantly sick.

    Not just every six weeks.

    Yeah, I know.

    I've seen pictures of these!

Grant turns and looks at him, a little annoyed.

    In your fully illustrated book.

Grant just rolls his eyes, but Ellie comes over and checks out 
the stones.

    What's that?

A light goes on in her eyes.

    Alan - - gizzard stones!

She throws Grant one of the stones.  They look at each other in 

As before, when they get excited, they talk right over each 

    Elm that's it, it explains the periodicity, the - -

    - - the undigested state of the berries because it's - -

    - - totally incidental
    unrelated to the feeding pattern - -

    What are you guys saying?

        (turning to Tim)
    It's simple, see.  Some animals like her, don't have 
    teeth - -

    - - like birds - -

    - - like birds.  What happen is, they swallow the stones 
    and hold them in a muscular sack in their stomachs - -

    - - a gizzard - -

    - - which is called a gizzard, and it helps them mash
    their food, but what happens after a while - -

    - - what happens is that after a while, the stones get  
    smooth, every six weeks, so the animal regurgitates them 
    - -

        (for Tim)
    - - barfs them up - -

    - - and swallows fresh ones.

    And when she swallows the stones, she swallows the 
    poison berries too.  That's what makes her sick.
    Good work Tim.
  • Do you have any information if that whole deasese was relevant for the larger storyline or its themes? Or was it really just a little interesting side-plot? And can you also back the point that this was supposed to be a scene but was deleted somehow?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jul 18, 2015 at 15:59
  • @NapoleonWilson It is just a side plot to delay the group and to show them encounter a dinosaur up-close. I'll add another reference that says the scene was planned to be expanded. It's not clear if it was filmed and dropped during editing, or if it was written and never filmed, though. Jul 18, 2015 at 16:02
  • @NapoleonWilson Actually, I'm wrong... it was mentioned at the end of the same article that the scene was filmed. "This moment is apparently the remnants of a deleted scene which was filmed but never made the final film which would have explained the reason for the dino’s sickness." Jul 18, 2015 at 16:06

The following is simply my opinion.

I think that the main point here is to show that even if Hammond & C. keep saying that everything is under control, nothing actually is, and the reserchers did not think about all the problems that might arise bringing dinosaurs back on earth in a new (for them) ecosystem.

  • That's certainly a good reason they would have kept the partial scene they did include, even if they didn't have time for the whole thing.
    – T.J.L.
    Feb 13, 2020 at 20:21

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